Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Guest Column by Dr. James D. Kirylo

Truth, Love, and Partisanism

By Dr. James D. Kirylo
July 3, 2013
Guest Column - 450 words

Last week, Robert Mann, a professor at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, wrote a provocative column in The Times-Picayune.  Titled Louisiana is Walling off School Children From Each Other, Mann challenges the direction of the Louisiana school reform effort.
Among other facts, he asserts that 40 percent of the state’s voucher students scored at or above grade level last spring, that 80 schools in the Louisiana Recovery School District (RSD) were plagued with allegations of mismanagement, wasteful spending and millions in lost or stolen property, and that the New Orleans’ RSD schools, mostly charters, were the worst performing in the city.  In short, Mann calls out the so-called reformers, making clear that their effort to systematically dismantle public schools is not working, not good for Louisiana, and ultimately undermines the common good.
Evidently, Senator Conrad Appel (R-Metairie) took exception to Mann’s piece, provoking him to strike back with a rather long diatribe in a post on his Facebook page.  In more ways than one, Mann brilliantly did his job as a columnist.  Appel was defensive, divisive, and ideological, injecting partisan politics, essentially proclaiming how the Republican Party is saving public education in Louisiana. 
Nowhere in his column did Mann mention political party, the left, the right, Republican, Democrat or Independent.  He simply presented a critical point of view that is clearly necessary in the overall conversation regarding the direction of public education in Louisiana.  
As for Appel, instead of thoughtfully considering Mann’s assertions as a prompt for constructive reflection, he pounced, taking Mann’s commentary personal, attacking the left, the Democrats, unions, and then somehow thinking he hit a home run with the proclamation, “Out of sheer love of our state, we Republicans have taken on the campaign to free our people from ignorance…Petty attacks by people who seek to destroy what is noble and good will be met with truth.”
“Truth” is a funny word and so is “love.”  Evidently, Mann doesn’t speak the truth, nor does he love the state of Louisiana.  Heck, the Democrats, those on the left, and even union people don’t speak the truth or love this state.  But the Republicans do!  The kind of political posturing that Appel injects is incredibly destructive, leaves no room for dialogue, and is an obvious manifestation of the axiom, “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.”
According to a recently published Bloomberg report, Louisiana has been rated the most miserable state in 2013.  The list goes on and on as to why we were graced with that not-so-flattering label.  Clearly, the partisan divide has exacerbated that misery. Perhaps Senator Appel should meditate on the misery he's caused before his next missive is written.

James D. Kirylo is the author of the book Paulo Freire: The Man from Recife, and can be reached at

Reprinted with permission.  
Blogger Dayne Sherman lives in Ponchatoula and is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website at
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